State of crumbling Birnbeck breaking Brian's heart
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 September 2013
THE last man to live on Birnbeck Pier - who has volunteered for Weston RNLI for more than 40 years - said his heart is breaking over the structure's deterioration.
Brian Ward, aged 59, lived in a house on the pier, where his dad ran a bar, until 1962.
The lifesaving charity has launched a £300,000 appeal for a new lifeboat station in the town due to the deteriorating facilities on Birnbeck – and the Mercury is supporting its campaign.
Mr Ward said: “It is extraordinary that it has stood through so many storms for so many years with so little maintenance.
“My old bedroom disappeared last year. It broke my heart - I have spent 20 years breaking my heart over it. My dad would turn in his grave now to see it so damaged and so would many other people who loved the pier.
Weston RNLI in numbers
WESTON’S crew spent 198 hours at sea during rescues in 2012.
They received 37 calls, 11 of which were to help people from the town.
This was fewer than in 2011, but still more than any station the area.
Weston RNLI has 11 helmsmen, six boat crew, four shore crew and four probationers.
There is an operations manager, four deputies who have authority to launch the lifeboats, one press officer and one education officer.
Brian said he grew up around both pleasure and fishing boats.
He said: “Lifeboating was something which was always part of my life. As a small boy I would see the men running to the boathouse and would help clean and prepare the boat after a shout.
“One day in 1969 I was helping to clean the boat when the maroons were fired and the crew made ready to launch.
“As they were short of crew I was pulled into the boat and was halfway down the slipway before I knew it.”
Number of calls made to Weston’s RNLI last year:
Sailing yacht or motor boat in distress: six.
Person reported in the water: five but no one found.
Medical emergency: four.
Inflatable dinghy drifting out to sea: four.
Person cut off by tide or in the mud: four.
False alarm with good intent: four.
Person trapped on rocks: two.
Kayakers, surfers/kite surfers in distress: two.
Unknown light sighted at sea with none found: one.
Mr Ward now volunteers for the deputy launching authority and receives pages from Swansea Coastguard when someone has called to report an incident at sea.
He said: “We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have even been called out on Christmas Day.
“As long as we are still able to do the work we will, because it becomes part of you.
“When the call comes you don’t question it, you just go and do it.”
To set up a collection or contribute in other ways to Weston RNLI’s lifeboat station appeal, call 0845 1226999.
Alternatively, you can send donations care of the Mercury to 32 Waterloo Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1LW and send your fundraising stories and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org